The Chicago Bears were one of the surprising upsets during Week 1 of the 2022 NFL Regular season where they defeated the San Francisco 49ers in a 19-10 victory to open the first full season with Justin Fields as the team’s starting quarterback.
Much speculation surrounded the Bears and Fields in the months leading up to their 2022 regular season opener against the 49ers.
Given the lack of attention that first-year general manager Ryan Poles paid to the wide receiver and offensive line positions during the off-season, many were under the misguided belief that the new regime manning the Bears’ football operations was biding their time this season before they are able to move on from Fields and draft their handpicked quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft.
If there was any doubt over whether or not the new regime believed in Fields, that was erased on Sunday afternoon in the locker room after the Bears’ victory over the 49ers.
The new Bears’ regime is not just manned by head coach Matt Eberflus and Poles as general manager. No, the new Bears’ regime has three leaders: Eberflus, Poles, and Fields.
Looking beyond the stat line of Fields’ performance against the 49ers on Sunday, the game marked the defining moment when Fields indeed became the leader of the Bears’ team. With the backing of Eberflus and Poles this season, there is no question that Fields has already become comfortable in his role as the starting quarterback of the Bears. On Sunday, Fields took his comfort in his role with the Bears and progressed to the next level of being the leader on the field for the Bears offense. The moment was not too big for Fields and that was a step forward in his development toward becoming a franchise quarterback.
Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields passed his first test in a season that will determine his future as a potential franchise quarterback.
Now, let’s not get carried away. The NFL is and has always been a performance-driven business. Fields can be a great leader but his performance on the field will ultimately be the determining factor of whether or not he can become the team’s franchise quarterback.
After a first half that saw Fields have a 2.8 passer rating, the second-year quarterback thrived in the face of adversity and rallied his teammates in the second half. Fields’ second-half passer rating against the 49ers on Sunday was 145.8 as he completed 5 of his 8 passes for a total of 102 yards and 2 passing touchdowns.
Sunday was no doubt a step forward for Fields’ development. There certainly are areas where Fields still needs to work on and an example of that would be his interception in the first half where he attempted to force the ball to Darnell Mooney despite several 49ers’ defenders suffocating the Bears’ primary receiver. But, in the grand scheme of things, a season that is about answering the question of whether or not Fields is the right quarterback for the Bears got kicked off in the right direction on Sunday.